Though our perception of time can be stunningly precise — given a beat to keep, professional drummers are accurate within milliseconds — it can also be curiously plastic. Some moments seem to last longer than others, and scientists don’t know why.
Unlike our other senses, our perception of time has no defined location in our brain, making it difficult to understand and study. But now researchers have found hints that our sense of time stems from specialized units in our brain, channels of neurons tuned to signals of certain time lengths.
“We know keeping track of time is incredibly important, it allows us to coordinate movements, interpret body language,” said optometrist James Heron of the University of Bradford in the UK, lead author of the study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Aug. 10. “We know the brain does this routinely and accurately, but we’re not sure how. Our evidence strongly suggests the presence of neural units in the brain that are tuned to different durations.”
As if the idea ideas of quantum entanglement and time travel weren’t difficult enough to wrap one’s head around separately, two physicists at the Universtiy of Queensland in Australia have further compounded the headache by merging the two ideas via a new kind of quantum entanglement that links particles not across space, but across time.
Quantum entanglement is that “spooky action” (Einstein’s words, not ours) that links two particles such that a measurement on one immediately influences the state of the other, even if the two particles are separated by miles, or even light years. Entanglement defies the intuitive way we understand the universe to work (as does most of quantum mechanics). The idea of “time teleportation,” as described by S. Jay Olson and Timothy Ralph, doesn’t add clarity but it does introduce some interesting questions about the fundamentals of the universe.
“The idea is that a detector acts on a qubit and then generates a classical message describing how this particle can be detected. Then, at some point in the future, another detector at the same position in space, receives this message and carries out the required In a sense, everyone and everything is time traveling, moving forward in time at a given rate. What Olson and Ralph propose is that it’s possible to take a shortcut into the future without being present in the interim. How? Tech Review’s KFC explains: